Company Faces $531K OSHA Fine After Worker Died in Corn Silo

OSHA says grain-handling company exposed workers to multiple safety hazards.

March 20, 2023

2 Min Read
OSHA has proposed $531,268 in penalties and placed CHS Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.Image courtesy of Pixabay (representative image)

On September 12, 2022, a 34-year-old worker's attempt to clean out a grain silo in Roseland, NE turned tragic when the corn engulfed and asphyxiated him. The worker died on-site.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at CHS Inc.--which operates as Agri-Service Center Roseland--found the employer disregarded federal regulations designed to prevent such tragedies and found the worker's personal protective equipment was not adequate for protection from engulfment hazards. 

OSHA also determined the company failed to equip the employee with an adequate body harness and lifeline that co-workers could have used to rescue him. Inspectors discovered the company kept a retractable lifeline tripod on-site, a device not designed for side entry onto grain, and had no adequate alternative method available to protect workers in silos.

The agency proposed $531,268 in penalties and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"The dangers of working inside grain bins are well-known and safety standards have been in place for decades," said OSHA area director Matthew Thurlby. "Despite our continued outreach and enforcement activity in this highly hazardous industry, we continue to see preventable fatalities. Agri-Service Center Roseland should know that safety standards and proper training, procedures, and equipment can make the difference between life and death. Expediency should never be put ahead of worker safety."

OSHA issued citations for 16 violations--two willful and 14 serious--for allowing workers to enter bins with grain build-up, and for failing to develop procedures for entering permit-required confined spaces, ensure emergency services were available, recognize and evaluate hazards and train workers, and implement machine safety procedures to prevent grain bin equipment from running while workers were inside bins.

Through its alliance program, OSHA has partnered with the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, Grain Elevator and Processing Society, and National Grain and Feed Association to address hazards, reduce risks, and improve safety and health management systems to help prevent life-altering injuries and fatalities.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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